(WITH VIDEO) – Kind words and congratulations filled Lovett Auditorium Friday as the University community and many others from across the Commonwealth and nation celebrated President Bob Davies’ investiture.
Spanning the stage sat notable speakers ranging from Gov. Steve Beshear to Board of Regents members and Richard O. Davies, Bob Davies’ father.
The investiture ceremony marked a historical moment for the University as Davies was celebrated for the achievements he has accomplished during his first nine months on campus. However, the speakers noted that there is still more greatness to come for both the University and the president.
“I speak for my fellow regents when I say we look forward to working with you for many years to come,” said Harry Waterfield, chairman of the Board of Regents, to Davies during the ceremony. “We have the utmost confidence that you are the right person to lead Murray State University.”
Others who also provided salutations to Davies included:
- Representative Kenny Imes
- Senator Stan Humphries
- President of the Council on Postsecondary Education Robert King
- Mayor Jack Rose
- Calloway County Judge Executive Larry Elkins
Additionally, student, faculty, staff and alumni representatives spoke on behalf of the University community.
Michael Dobbs, student regent, said he felt refreshed as an outgoing senior knowing Davies is president of the University because of Davies’ character.
“The students finally know who the president of their University is,” Dobbs said. “They know he isn’t some grey-haired, monotone, legalistic administrator, tucked away in a secret location where no one can disturb him – although I’m sure the grey hair will come. No, he is quite frankly the complete opposite. He shakes hands. He walks through campus. He takes selfies.”
However, Davies was not only celebrated for his work in Murray, but for the work he has done for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Gov. Steve Beshear gave remarks, noting in his speech that he has participated in groundbreakings for Murray State and regional campuses in the past. Most recently, he, Davies and many others participated in the groundbreaking of the new Engineering and Science building that very same day.
“The performance of this school and the performance of its students made it easy to get all of those things done,” Beshear said of Murray State’s recent projects. “Murray State is truly fulfilling its role as a regional public university.”
Following not long after Beshear’s remarks was the presentation of the chain of office, a medallion given to the new president. The chain of office is a new tradition at Murray State that begins with Davies and will be worn by the president at ceremonial occasions.
The chain was handcrafted from antique bronze and its plates are engraved with the names and service dates of Murray State’s past 12 presidents. The medallion bears the presidential seal. Just above the medallion are two links engraved with “president” and “Robert O. Davies.”
With the chain of office draped around his neck, Davies took the podium to not only to thank everyone who was at the ceremony but also to speak famous words from Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.”
Sharing an anecdote about how he and his father would throw around a baseball when he was young, Davies said his father gave “Walden” to him after a night of catch. Davies said admittedly, he put off reading the book, which had been passed down for generations in his family but after a short while, it found its way into his hands.
While quoting Thoreau, Davies said he wanted to put into context his thoughts about the University.
He said that the University has tremendous successes to build upon, including being named as a great University in the region for 24 consecutive years.
“It is no wonder that many of our academic programs are regionally, nationally and internationally recognized as the best in their discipline,” Davies said. “As a result, it should be no surprise that Governor Beshear said what he said today, and just two years ago state publicly, ‘Murray State is the gem of all Universities in Kentucky.’”
He said those successes are a testament to what the faculty and staff have done over the years and are guided by the University’s three ideals: achievement, endeavor and hope.
Following Davies’ speech, the Murray State Concert Choir sang the Alma Mater, “In the Heart of Jackson’s Purchase.” As audience members stood in honor and sang along, the investiture ceremony came to close, but marked what could only be regarded as the beginning of an era.
Story by Mary Bradley, Editor-in-Chief